Just 5 years ago on 18 December 2014 I was elected as DG of ESA. My main motivations and determination were, and still are, to serve and support Europe with the help of space. 4 years later, in 2018, the question of a contract extension was raised.
In the process of discussing a possible extension I was faced with various actions aimed at undermining both me and my position as DG.
In order to have a more coherent calendar for DG terms of office and the time between two ESA ministerial Councils, I proposed a new setup of 6 / 3 / 3 years instead of 4 / 4/ 4. Finally, in 2018, I received an extension for another two years in accordance with my proposal for 6 years for the first term. My current term ends on 30 June 2021, right in between Space19+ and the next ESA Council at ministerial level in 2022.
I have had the honour and pleasure to lead ESA for nearly 5 years and to be responsible for the preparation of Space19+. This preparation took more than 2 years and, with invaluable help from many, Space19+ became a very successful ESA Council at ministerial level, not only because of the huge amounts subscribed, but also because of the strong political support shown towards ESA in the interventions of Ministers and Governments of ESA Member States.
ESA is a great organisation with outstanding people but another very important feature is its extremely smart democratic setup as expressed in its Convention of 1975. It is essential that we preserve these values especially in times of international change and multiple challenges. Therefore, as already stated to the Ministers back in December last year, I ask that Member States make their decisions in the very best interests of the Agency, its Member States and Europe.
As long as the Member States place their trust in me as ESA DG, I will, with all the possibilities available to me, work for ESA, while adapting it to the rapidly changing environment it finds itself in, negotiating the FFPA* for the next MFF** and carrying on with programmatic-level preparations for the next ESA Council at ministerial level. In the aftermath of Space19+ there is much to do to secure ESA as “The European NewSpace Agency” in close interaction with the Member States.
It is an outstanding honour and pleasure for me to serve ESA, its Member States, staff and contractors and help bring ESA and Europe forward in and through space.
* Financial Framework Partnership Agreement
** Multiannual Financial Framework